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- h p -
VOL. 1 No. 10
JUNE, 1950
The Explanation for Certain
Cathode-Follower Effects
ONE of the problems when using a highimpedance voltmeter to measure volt
age in high-impedance audio and video-fre
quency circuits is minimiz
ing the effect of test lead ca
pacity. Usually, shielded
test leads are necessary to
prevent hum pick-up, but
the capacity of such leads is likely to load
seriously the circuit under test. For example,
a set of shielded test leads may add 1 00 micro-
Figure 1. Model 45 1 A Bridging Amplifier bus
83-megobm positive input impedance.
micro-farads to the circuit under test. This
represents a reactive loading at 10 kc of
160,000 ohms— a very appreciable loading
across a one-half or one megohm circuit.
A review of the literature pertaining to
this problem shows that the usually-recom
mended panacea is the use of a cathode-fol
lower input with a shielded cable connected
between grid and cathode. This connection
divides the input capacity roughly by the
feedback factor of the cathode follower. Re
sistance-wise, the grid resistor can be con
nected so that its value will be increased by
the same feedback factor, making obtainable
an input impedance as high as 100 megohms.
At first, this arrangement seems an almost
ideal solution to the problem, but examina
tion of the circuit discloses major shortcom
ings. Consider Figure 2 which shows the
cathode-follower used as an impedancetransformer between a high-impedance stage
and a measuring instrument. A doubleshielded cable is used in the input circuit to
minimize hum pick-up. The output circuit is
shown to include the capacity of the test lead
to the measuring equipment as well as the
input capacity of the measuring equipment
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
I 9 5 O
H E W L E T T - P A C K A R D
C O .
Figure 2. (a) Cathode follower used as
impedance transformer, (b) Same circuit
u'itb capacities lumped.
A mathematical investigation
shows that the circuit of Figure 2(b)
has the approximate equivalent cir
cuit shown in Figure 3(a). This
equivalent circuit includes negative
capacity components as well as a
negative resistance component. In
other words the impedance-trans
forming cathode-follower amplifier
of Figure 2 is itself a voltage gener
ator and will feed energy back into
the circuit being measured under
certain conditions.
Evaluating the circuit of Figure
3(a), it will be seen that at very low
frequencies the resistances Rj and R>
normally become insignificant com
pared to the reactances of the capaci
tors in the upper portion of the
branch. This therefore leads to the
equivalent circuit shown in Figure
3(b). Here the negative capacities
— Cs and — Ck are exactly compen
sated by the positive capacities C»
and Ck. Hence, the input circuit of
the cathode follower consists of (a)
the grid resistance multiplied by the
feedback factor of the cathode fol
lower (b) in parallel with the grid
capacity divided by the feedback fac
tor (Figure 3(c)— all according to
conventional theory.
However, as frequency increases
and the reactance of the negative ca
pacities becomes less, the negative
resistance component becomes more
influential. The effect of the cathode
follower's negative impedance can
often be observed by connecting the
circuit of Figure 2 across an induc
tance, for all the conditions neces
sary for oscillation are then present
and the circuit will frequently oscil
late for a wide range of inductance
values. In a voltage- measuring appli
cation, this oscillation will com
pletely prevent any real measure
ment of voltage. If the circuit is con
nected across other than an induc
tance, the action of the cathode fol
lower may increase the voltage at
the point of measurement, also giv
ing inaccurate results.
Another facet of the impedance of
cathode followers involves the load
that is driven by the cathode circuit.
If the input impedance of the cath
ode follower is to be made reason
ably high, a relatively high value of
cathode resistance is desirable. If, at
the same time, the low output im
pedance of the cathode follower is to
be used to drive a low-impedance
load, the effective value of the cath
ode resistor is reduced. This reduc
tion may easily be as much as two to
one. The lowered effective value of
Figure 3- (a) Equivalent circuit of Figure
2. (b) and (c) Low frequency equivalent
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
i - ^ / V ^
Figure 4. Resistance-capacity voltage
cathode resistance will then be re
flected in a reduction in input im
pedance by this same factor, for
the input impedance is proportional
to (l+G,,,Rk). In other words the
cathode follower can be used to ob
tain a high input impedance or a low
output impedance, but full advan
tage cannot be taken of both charac
teristics at the same time.
For the above reasons the cathode
follower is not considered to be a
satisfactory solution to the original
problem, which was to reduce the
effect of the capacity of the test leads
in combination with the capacity of
the measuring equipment. Another
approach that eliminates the cathode
follower and still achieves this ob
jective is the simple resistance-ca
pacity voltage divider shown in Fig
ure 4.
In Figure 4 if the ratio of the ca
pacities equals the ratio of the re
sistances (CP/C=RS/R,,), the volt
age divider action is constant at all
frequencies (E0/Ei=R1,/(Rp+Rs)).
To solve the original problem, the
divider of Figure 4 can be designed
to use the capacity of a test cable as
part of the voltage divider, as in Fig
ure 5. Here, the capacity Cp is the ca
pacity of the shielded cable and has
been absorbed into the circuit so that
it is useful. By properly choosing R,
and the length and type of cable, and
by taking care to avoid excess capa
city in the shield around Rs, a test
lead with an input impedance of low
capacity and high resistance is ob-
Figure 5. R-C divider incorporated into
high-2 probe.
tainable. Thus, it is possible to make
the input resistance RS+R,, well over
50 megohms and to keep the total
input capacitance within approxi
mately 5 mmf.
To compensate for the loss in volt
age caused by the voltage divider
action, a good amplifier whose gain
is stabilized by feedback at a value
inversely related to the reduction in
the voltage divider (E0/E¡) can be
connected across the output of the
divider. We then have a one-to-one
circuit that can be connected be
tween the test point and any of the
usual pieces of measuring equip
ment ordinarily on hand. This ar
rangement is the substance of the
-hp- Model 451 A Bridging Ampli
With about a 15:1 reduction in
the voltage divider, this circuit can
only exhibit a fixed positive input
resistance. If the amplifier is prop
erly designed, it introduces negli
gible error into the system. Further,
the output impedance of the ampli
fier can be made even lower than
that of the cathode follower. Owing
to the isolation by the input divider,
any excessive loading of the ampli
fier output can not affect the circuit
under test.
The -hp- 451 A is designed in the
above manner and provides the de
sirable features of a shielded input
cable with a low-capacity, high-re
sistance input and a low-impedance
output system, all at moderate cost.
Any of the usual pieces of test equip
ment can then be connected to its
output. The input capacity is ap
proximately 5 mmf and the input re
sistance in excess of 83 megohms
over the range from 20 cps to 200 kc.
Distortion produced in the amplifier
is less than 0.1 % up to 30 volts out
put. To permit measurement of volt
ages higher than 30, a switch in the
unit increases the loss in the input
divider circuit by a factor of 10, al
lowing voltages up to 300 to be
measured at an overall gain of onetenth. The frequency response is flat
within 2% from 20 cps to 200 kc and
within 1 db from 20 cps to 1 me.
Hum and noise across the output
terminals are less than 4 millivolts.
Two sets of output terminals permit
monitoring of the test voltage by
two different measuring instru
—Brtmton Bauer.
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: Constant within 2%
from 20 cps to 200 kc; constant within
1 db from 20 cps to 1 me.
INPUT IMPEDANCE: Approximately 83 meg
ohms shunted by 5 mmf.
INPUT VOITAGE RANGE: Up to 30 volts at
gain of unity; up to 300 volts at gain of
DISTORTION: less than 0.1% from 20 cps to
200 kc when loaded with 0.1 megohm or
OUTPUT NOISE: Less than .004 volts includ
ing hum.
OUTPUT IMPEDANCE: Less than 5 ohms above
5 kc.
POWER SUPPLY: Operates from nominal 115
v, 50/60 cycle source; requires 40 watts.
CABIES SUPPLIED: Input probe and cable
permanently attached; 7' power cable
permanently attached.
DIMENSIONS: 8</2" wide, 5Vl" high, 11"
WEIGHT: Approx. 9 fbs.; shipping weight,
22 Ibs.
PRÃCE: $100 f.o.b. Palo Alto, California.
Data subject to change without notice.
Extended -Range Metered Power Supply
The popular -hp- Model 710A reg
ulated power supply was designed as
a low-power source and has proved
very useful for general laboratory
applications. Now, in accordance
with requests for a regulated supply
with higher voltage and current ca
pacity, the new -hp- Model 712A
has been designed. This economical
supply is useable in applications
where regulated dc voltages up to
500 volts at currents up to 200 milli-
amperes are required. Both the out
put voltage and current are directly
indicated by large 4-inch panel
meters. A regulated 0- 1 50 volt nega
tive dc adjustable bias supply and ac
filament power are also provided.
Current overload fuses are located in
convenient panel mounting posts.
The high- voltage supply is adjust
able from 500 volts down to less than
1 volt in one continuous sweep and
regulates within 0.5 rc or 0.1 volt,
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
whichever is larger, from no-load to
full-load. The negative terminal of
the high-voltage supply is connected
internally to the positive terminal of
the bias supply so that the bias sup
ply is always negative with respect
to the negative terminal of the highvoltage supply. However, either the
positive or negative terminal of the
high-voltage supply can be ground
ed. The panel voltmeter that moni
tors the high-voltage has two ranges,
-hp- voltages 7 12 A Regulated Power Supply provides regulated voltages
adjustable from 0-500 rolls at currents up to 200 ma.
0-150 vdc and 0-500 vdc, to permit
greater accuracy in setting output
voltages. The current from the highvoltage supply is read on a 0-200
milliampere meter.
The bias supply is adjustable up to
— 150 volts dc and will provide cur
rents up to 5 ma. At maximum volt
age, regulation is within 1' "< from
no-load to full-load. In the worst
condition, the internal impedance of
the bias supply is approximately
6500 ohms. However, the 0-150 volt
range of the panel voltmeter can be
switched to the bias supply to permit
accurate adjustment of bias voltage.
The filament supply provides 6.3
volts ac at currents up to 10 amperes
maximum. Regulation of the fila
ment supply is not provided. A cen
ter-tap on the transformer winding
for the filament supply is brought
out to the front panel to be ground
ed when desired. The filament wind
ing can be operated at dc voltages up
to approximately 500 volts, depend
ing upon the external circuit.
The -hp- 712A has been designed
for reliability and long trouble-free
performance. Oil-filled paper capa
citors are used instead of electrolytics. By means of a special circuit ar
rangement, the control tubes in the
circuit are operated at only about
OUTPUT VOLTAGE No. I: Regulated; 0-500
volts dc without switching; 200 ma maxi
mum load.
OUTPUT VOLTAGE No. 2. Regulated; 0-150
volts dc negative; 5 ma maximum load.
OUTPUT VOLTAGE No. 3: Unregulated; 6.3
volts ac center-tapped; 10 amperes maxi
mum load.
REGULATION: HV No. 1, within 0.5% or 0.1
volt, whichever is larger, from no load to
full load at any line voltage from 105 to
125 volts. HV No. 2, within 1% from no
load to full load at maximum output volt
age. Regulation at other voltages depends
on setting of voltage control; internal
impedance may be as high as 6500 ohms.
METERS: Current, 0-200 ma. Voltmeter, 2
ranges, 0-150 and 0-500 volts. 0-150 volt
range can be switched to read HV No. 2
output voltage.
© Copr. 1949-1998 Hewlett-Packard Co.
75' r of rated plate dissipation,
whereas, in this type circuit the plate
dissipation of the control tube usu
ally is a limiting factor. The above
features combined with the moder
ate price of the -hp- 712A make it
well adapted to general-purpose
HUM: Less than 8 millivolts.
TERMINALS: Either positive or negative ter
minal of HV No. 1 can be grounded. Posi
tive terminal of HV No. 2 is internally
connected to negative terminal of HV
No. 1.
INPUT POWER: Operates from 105-125 volt,
50 60 cycle supply; requires approxi
mately 400 watts.
OVERLOAD PROTECT/ON: Load and line sep
arately fused. Fuses available on front
MOUNTING: Relay rack mounting; end frames
are available to convert to table mounting
but are not essential.
SIZE: 10'/2" high, 19" wide, 13" deep.
WEIGHT- 60 Ibs. Shipping weight, approx.
110 Ibs.
PRICE: 5250.00 f.o.b. Palo Alto, Calif. End
frames $5.00 per pair f.o.b. Palo Alto,
Calif. (Specify No. 17.)
Data subject to change without notice.